Claims on the home page of www.brewdog.com, a brewery website, stated "BrewDog is a post Punk apocalyptic mother fu*ker of a craft brewery. Say goodbye to the corporate beer whores crazy for power and world domination ... Ride toward anarchy and caramel craziness. Let the sharp bitter finish rip you straight to the tits. Save up for a Luger, and drill the bastards".
An internet user challenged whether the language used in the ad was likely to cause serious offence.
BrewDog said they had removed the claims from their website, but did not provide a substantive response to our enquiries.
The ASA noted the asterisk used in "mother fu*ker", but considered its inclusion did not obscure the intended meaning and it was still clear that it represented a swear word, one generally regarded as highly offensive and unlikely to be acceptable in marketing communications. We considered that the other language used on the page, such as "corporate beer whores", "rip you straight to the tits" and "Save up for a Luger and drill the bastards", was also likely to cause serious offence to some people.
Given the general tone of the page, and in particular the use of "mother fu*ker", we considered the language used was gratuitous and concluded that the page was likely to cause serious offence to some visitors to the website page.
The claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
(Social responsibility) and
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence).
The page must not appear again in its current form. We told BrewDog to take care to avoid causing serious offence in the future. We referred the matter to CAP's Compliance team.